The D-word: Part I

“You did too much. You tried too hard. The only thing you didn’t do is walk away. So walk away. It’s going to hurt like hell, but do it anyway. Do it with grace. Do it with love. Do it knowing you did everything you could”.        – b.breazeale

I have admittedly been avoiding this one, but it was inevitable, really. It’s pretty much why I’m here writing this, why I keep on writing this, why some of you have asked me to keep writing this.

Divorce. It’s apparently one of mid-life’s sidekicks. A lot of us are starting to wonder if these two now just go hand and hand. We see it happening all around us, yet it still feels like we are the only ones going through it.

I thought I would find it reassuring each time one of you confirmed that I’m not alone in all of this. It’s not reassuring. It’s heartbreaking. When I hear your stories, I just want to push fast forward so we can all arrive safely, unscathed, on the other side.

I think most of us have an idea why we are going through this at this point in our lives. There is growing evidence that our age bracket (40 and older) has the highest divorce rate. Clearly there are multiple factors, but most theories attribute this to the ‘empty nest’ phenomenon. I will try to tackle that one next week, at least my thoughts on it since my experience is only from what I have read, hearsay, and observation.

Regardless of age or the children factor, we all pretty much have different versions of the same story. We are the ones who cheated or the ones who were cheated on, the ones who are hated or the ones who hate, the ones who left or the ones who were left. Either end is excruciating and feels terrible.

For me, it was the months before- the unraveling of what I thought was my forever, when I knew I had to do it- that was by far the most painful part. The moment of truth, of trying to come to terms with the fact that I had to leave, of trying to find the courage to do it, of trying to prepare myself for the look on his face when I finally forced myself to do it- to turn my back on him, open the fucking door and close it behind me.

It is the hardest thing I have ever done.

I try to reconcile the guilt and regret with the fact that I truly did fight for us. And I know he did too. We all did. Not one of us wanted to give up on our person, on our relationship, on our lives as a couple or a family unit. We didn’t want to be the cause of pain for the person we still love. We didn’t want to be alone or bear the thought of them being alone. We didn’t want to hurt our kids and our families.

So we tried longer and harder than we should have, prolonging the inevitable, trying to forgive or waiting to be forgiven, trying to conjure up what had been missing- to fix it or force it or fake it. It seemed an infinitely better option than being the one responsible, or being the victim, or admitting to ourselves and the world that we had failed.

We all know the statistics: ‘Approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce’.

For most of us, the statistics were irrelevant. They certainly did not apply to me. I, unlike the other 50%, would beat the odds. I didn’t get married out of desperation or the desire to be the status quo. I wanted to be with the person who I had chosen to grow old with. I wanted to solidify our commitment to each other in front our closest friends and family. I wanted to build our own family and community. I wanted to have the happy, fulfilling, normal life that I assumed all of my friends had. The ‘other’ 50% were getting married for the ‘wrong’ reasons. But I wasn’t in that bracket. I was by no means going to be a statistic.

We were together for around 7 years before we got engaged. And yes, it became an issue. I began to question whether he was in it for the long-term or if there was something wrong with me or if there was some glaring reason why he didn’t want to get married that I wasn’t seeing. When we did get married, I distinctly remember wanting to tell everyone and probably made sure the ring on my left hand was noticed. “See, there is nothing wrong with me. I am lovable. Someone does want to be committed to me for life. You thought I wasn’t, but I am. I am normal”.

We did in the end become a statistic. But we were so much more.  I don’t regret one second of our marriage (except for hurting him), nor spending over a decade of my life with him. I married him because he was everything I wanted and needed at that point in my life. I married him because I wanted to spend my life with him. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t.

I hate that I couldn’t save it, that we couldn’t save it. But I think we both know we would have been saving it for the wrong reasons. I didn’t leave because I didn’t love him. I left because I did love him and I knew I was no longer giving him the love he deserved. I also knew that I wasn’t getting what I needed anymore. That wasn’t his fault. He did every possible thing he could to give me what I needed and more. But what I needed, from life, from my partner, had changed. Staying wasn’t fair to either of us. We would have been living a lie.

Although divorce seems to becoming the norm, there is nothing about it that is normal. The unfolding, arrival, and aftermath is different for everyone. It is rarely mutual or fair, it never just ends, and it is always painful. Most days I know it was for the best. But there are still so many days I wish we were still together and just feel like I made a colossal mistake.

I think it just takes time and perspective to get to the place where we know that we made the right decision, that we didn’t fail, that sometimes failing is actually staying. But we are not there yet. We are in the thick of it and have little access to those on the other side- the ones who now can see that they did the best thing possible for everyone involved. This is why we are still fighting when we know it’s time to stop. This is why those of us who stopped are now riddled with guilt because we did.

But you can only fight for so long. And when you realize that you are the only one fighting with conviction, it is time to lay down your sword. It is time to fight for you, to have faith that time and perspective will reveal in the end that you did the best and most courageous thing you could have done. You walked away.

“One of the hardest parts of life is deciding whether to walk away or to try harder.”

Articles regarding divorce rate statistics: 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-3330435/Divorce-figures-drop-except-50s.html#ixzz4cRuDEekC 

https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/Family-Law-Blog/2012/October/32-Shocking-Divorce-Statistics.aspx

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Drama Cleanse, the End: The Function of Failure

  1. 5-minute Journal- every day
  2. Podcasts:
  3.   Beautiful Writers Podcast: Anne Lamott & Glennon Doyle Melton: Hallelujah Anyway; Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert: Brene Brown; Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert: Glennon Doyle Melton
  4. Visualize for 5 minutes – Everyday, this morning with quick meditation
  5. Exercise: Bar online (20 minute version) and 4 mile run; track workout; rest day; 4 mile run
  6. Goal- submitting revised article to 2 different journals
  7. An item off your shitty things to do list: Still checking off…
  8. Do something fun: Friend came to visit…so much fun was had.

Well, we made it. I was really hoping that I would arrive on the other side of this happy, healed, and heartbreak free. Not quite there, but I guess I am 30 days closer to getting there.

As far as ‘drama’ goes, I was relatively successful. In comparison to the past year, specifically the past 7 months, it was a bubble of all things good and beautiful. But it wasn’t, really. Life just doesn’t work that way. But ,there was still a lot of both of those.

Podcasts:

The first podcast I can’t recommend highly enough. I was an interview with Glennon Doyle Melton and Anne Lamott. I literally could not stop listening until it was over. These two, especially together, were riveting. It is centered around their writing careers, but everything they discuss is applicable to all- everything around facing your fears, pursuing your dreams, etc.

So Glennon Doyle Melton is my new hero. She is just so unbelievably real and raw, and also funny, charming, strong and bold. I think I wrote about her last week. Lamott is a bit older and so incredibly wise but without the least bit of pretention. She, like Glennon, is extremely raw an honest and, yes, a little crazy.

The second and third podcasts were Glennon again, and then Brene Brown.

Takeaway:

All of these discussions each woman’s path that led to her need to write and the way it has impacted her life, as well of those of her readers. The themes that kept surfacing in all three of their stories were fear and failure…which I am finally figuring out are one and the same.

Each woman had to do the one thing that scared them the most. They had to accept that they had failed. They had to look at all of their pain and shame and guilt and fear, all their demons, and not only name them, but expose them and identify exactly where they came from.

Failure. That is always the source, right? Our pain, our guilt or shame…it comes from a deeply ingrained fear that we will fail or that we did fail. It makes us completely powerless because we have no control over it. ‘They’ do. We are afraid of failing ‘them’- our parents, our children, our partner or boss. We fail because we believe they think we failed.

One of them asked a seemingly simple question that proved to make the most powerful point in the podcast.

When was the first time someone told you couldn’t do something well or made you feel like something you created or did was bad?

I feel like every one of us can quickly conjure up this memory- your art teacher, parent, sibling, or ‘friends’ at school. You proudly, or timidly, offered up your talent, and they laughed at you, ridiculed you, embarrassed you, and/or hurt you. I thought of mine and was kind of embarrassed that it had such a lasting impact. But when you are little, you have no choice but to use others’ thoughts and opinions to form your frame of reference, and this includes your identity, even if it is only their reaction to your precious drawing.

I was in the first grade and we were given a picture to color. The best one got a, no idea, a sticker or eraser or something. We all handed them in and the teacher put them up on the wall for everyone to see. I have no idea what the picture was or what mine looked like, but I remember that I was proud of it and actually thought I might ‘win’.

I didn’t. She even selected a runner-up, but it wasn’t me. I went up to the teacher after and asked her why mine didn’t win. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but something to the effect of I didn’t stay within the lines. (such a metaphor for my life right now). I remember being so embarrassed and furious at myself for not knowing what the rules were.

I know I kept coloring, probably compulsively until I learned to do it like everyone else. But it’s not about ‘coloring’, is it? She planted a seed. I wasn’t good enough, or worse, there was something wrong with me. So I had two choices: I could either kill myself trying to be better, or I could just stop trying all together. This message started a viscous cycle that became a life-long battle.

I’m not saying this event was the only contributing factor to one of my most relentless issues, but I definitely can see how it helped set the stage. You can’t be perfect if you color outside the lines. And you can’t be celebrated if you aren’t perfect.

It’s crazy, right? Are demons are born from our innocence. Our naive tendency to trust ourselves and those around us with our safety, our love, our confidence and self-worth. We are completely oblivious to the fact that our unconventional drawing will manifest into a never-ending battle to be good enough- a battle that most of us don’t even know we are fighting.

I was very clear that I wasn’t in a battle, I was in an all-out war and I knew exactly why. But I truly thought I was winning. I was winning because I was achieving. – college degrees, great jobs, athletic endeavors, exciting travels. What I was actually doing was running. They were forever closing in, but I was always 2 steps ahead. It was exhausting, but it was so much easier than trying to disarm them.

To be clear, I don’t think setting the bar high and achieving your goals is a bad approach to life, not at all. This is what makes us human and why we are here- to experience, to achieve and evolve. Anything living has to grow, right? Otherwise it dies.

The problem is when we are doing what we do as a way to prove our self-worth, prove being the operative word. If we interpret success as ‘how much’ or ‘how well’ we do something, and those quantifiers are determined by others’ standards, then we will never get it right. We will never own anything but our failures, and any of our successes will be theirs.

So while I was running full force, stacking up one accomplishment on top of the other, I truly thought I was successfully building up my credentials. But what I was actually building was a fortress. It was a seemingly good strategy. I still didn’t have to face anything. But I now had this extremely powerful weapon- an impenetrable wall to keep the demons at bay while keeping ‘my good enough’ safely inside.

Herein lies the tragic flaw, right? All the things I accomplished now defined me and you got to decide if I they were good enough…if I was good enough. My carefully constructed walls were a very convincing façade that became my prison. I was forever afraid of failing ‘you’, so you stayed locked out, while I remained trapped inside. I unknowingly granted a safe haven for the very demons I was trying to eliminate. They grew steadily in both strength and numbers, leaving no room for anything good.

This has became far more exhausting than running. The prospect of remaining invisible and far removed from all the things I love and want is far more terrifying than facing the shit that has sucked all the joy out of the things I am most proud of.

So here is the crux. Lamott so eloquently reminds us, ‘failure has its function’. You failed. Your worst fear came true. But so doesn’t that mean that you just did the scariest thing you will ever do? You already survived the scariest, so anything that happens now can’t be worse, right? You are still standing and now you have the most powerful weapon of all.

Knowledge.

What is fear, exactly? It’s a belief that something is dangerous. It’s not knowledge of what is inevitably going to happen, it’s a belief of what might.

There is the function. Failure makes us disarm fear with the knowledge that, even at its worst, it can’t destroy us.

I think  I’m finally getting to the place where I don’t give a shit if I fail anymore. I already have failed, in so many ways, none of which were small. So, that’s out of the way. And yes, I am embarrassed, ashamed and angry. And yes, I still feel fear. But it is not the fear of failing you. It is a fear of not doing all of the things I still want to…I being the operative word. I just want to do all of the things I want to do because I want to do them. So maybe it’s not fear exactly. Maybe it is something entirely different that just feels similar, physiologically speaking.

Maybe I’m just really excited?

I think that is a good note to end our little experiment on. It has not been a perfect 30 days. But I feel like some destructive patterns were interrupted and some new ones were implemented. That was the goal.

Thanks for coming along for the ride and for your all of your support and wisdom. I send all of you lots of love and wish you an endless string of happy, exciting, and peaceful days

 Adulting

You can be shattered and then you can put yourself back together piece by piece.  And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot fit into your old life anymore.” Glennon Doyle Melton

So I’m lying in my 375 sq. foot basement thinking about where I was a year ago. It horrifies  me to realize that my life is not that different, and a year ago wasn’t a high point by any stretch… and disturbingly similar to where I was in my 20’s.

Wait, is that right? What was I doing in my 20’s? I was in L.A., I had just sold everything I owned to move to Spain…no income, no money, and a handful of very concerned friends. And then a bunch of drama happened and I couldn’t move to Spain, so I packed up the few things I had left, drove cross country and started over…with no income, no money, and a handful of very concerned friends.

Twenty years later? Just got rid of almost everything I have to move to Paris. And then a bunch of drama happened and I couldn’t move to Paris, so I packed up the few things I have left, drove cross country and am starting over… with no income, no money, and a handful of very concerned friends.

I clearly did not bring the whole adulting thing along for the ride. I think we can safely say that I’m pretty much failing at it.

My friends, however, are doing it in full force. Adulting, that is. They have children who are now approaching adult status themselves. They have ‘real’ jobs, or even just a job period, and they actually own their homes. They are married, or they survived the seemingly inevitable divorce and successfully negotiated who got what- the house, time with the kids, the Cuisinart, the crazy expensive ceramic dog bowl, the dog.

So I’m not going to torture you with the extent of how badly I’m adulting. But it’s pretty bad. I think my situation has to be akin to where people end up right before they take their last blanket and stake out a storefront with a covered entry way. This is not to make light of their situation at all. I legitimately understand what the trajectory might look like for someone who finds themselves standing in the street with only a tattered blanket left to hold on to. I kind of feel like the only thing that is separating me from that covered entry way is the door leading into my 375 sq foot basement.

I know, it sounds terrible. This simply has to make you feel better about where you are in your life right now. And I assure you, I am not aiming for sympathy here. I can actually see the humor in it all. Well, some days I can, for Iike a second. But those seconds are made up of 100% confidence that I will look back on this and laugh. And it will make a great story, and it will inspire some struggling soul to pick themselves up, forge on, and not settle for deciding which street corner will be the most lucrative.

So, application to my daily life. There is this fancy ice cream parlor that just opened up literally one block away from me. It is the new gathering spot for pretty much everyone in the neighborhood- ‘everyone’ meaning perfectly-matched, successful 30-something couples and their cute, reletively well-behaved children.

And they all seem to be adulting very well.

It is excruciating to walk by but there is absolutely no avoiding it. Children running around laughing and screaming, ice cream dripping down their chins, dad waiting patiently while holding his wife’s vanilla ice cream cone as she chases after them.

It would seem that this sweet, familial scene might lift my spirits a bit, offer some sense of hope that there is an alternative to scoping out street corners. But it usually just makes me regret every major life decision I have made. I don’t have a little one to chase after or my sweet husband to hold my ice cream cone (which I assure you would not be vanilla). This is how I feel most days.

There is the rare occasion that I make it to the coffee shop, which just happens to be on the other side of the new fancy ice cream parlor, grab a table as far away from the madness as possible, quickly locate my headphones, and successfully drown out the noise of the meltdowns going on outside. I am anything but envious of those couples on these days. But that is rare.

This is my every day. Every day I have to walk through hell to get to my haven. And each time, I feel like everything switches into slow motion. It takes me at least 10 minutes to walk 5 steps, trying like mad to dodge the sticky little children and avoid any eye contact with their doting parents. And every time, this is what I hear…

They wait unit I am at a safe distance and then whisper, (at least I have convinced myself this is what is happening) “That poor girl. She is always alone. I’m sure she is divorced. She’s got to be at least 40, right? I don’t even think she has a boyfriend. It’s just so sad…”

I somehow make it safely inside, beads of sweat on my forehead, and quickly settle in to the place I stay for the next 5 hours, or 8, depending on how longs the couples and their children stay lurking about. When I feel like it is safe to finally look up, I can’t help but just stare at them. I want to go back out there and sit down with them. I want to ask them some questions.

“Hi, I’m the pathetic 40-something single girl you were feeling sorry for a minute ago, the one who lives in the basement next to your beautiful house that you own with a yard, 2 kids, and a dog. I just have a couple of quick questions to ask you two if you don’t mind.

Are you both happy? If you are, can you tell me what you are doing exactly? Do you still make each other laugh? Do you still kiss each other, like with the tongue kiss? Do you still have sex, like more than once a month? Do you spend time together doing things you both love to do? Do you stay up late listening to your new favorite song, reading your favorite line from the best book you’ve ever read, or deciding where exactly you will buy your chateau in France? Do you still dream about your future and plan out your next adventure together? Or did you settle for the safe bet? Would you have done something differently? Chosen someone different? Did you let someone go who is the one your thoughts always drift back to? Would you end it if you could- if it wasn’t for the kids, the mortgage, the mutual friends, the fear of failure or of being alone? Would you go find the one who got away?

What I’m asking is, do you feel like you are successfully adulting? Cause I don’t think I’m doing it right. Or do you secretly want to be kind of failing at it too, at least for long enough to remember why you wanted to do it in the first place?

I keep hearing so many of my friends say, ‘no, actually, not successful at this at all”. They are kind of miserable and kind of feel trapped. Of course they love their children. That, they would not change for the world. And, yes, they love their partner, but it is not the love that it was and not the love they would still fight for if it weren’t for the kids.

I sound like I’m trying to make myself feel better here. I guess I am on some level. But, god, it just makes me so sad. I makes me sad for them, for my ex-husband, for me, for the partner who wants out and for the one who doesn’t, for the kids who think that a healthy relationship, or any relationship, is one that is based on a facade, void of passion and affection, one that consists of constant bickering- a resignation or forced truce of sorts that is constantly questioned, doubted, and endured- one that has to make these kids kind of dread becoming an adult.

They also might be equally as terrified of ending up like their parent’s recently divorced ‘older’ friend who is now obsessively checking her match.com page, exhausting everyone who is still listening with how many winks and likes she got that day and how horrible the prospects are out of the small pool of recently divorced men who are pretty much everything she does not want to go spend an hour of her life with… but what the hell else is she going to do to not have to hang out with her married couple friends all the time and listen to them bitch about how selfish or lazy or unfaithful their partner is and how they kind of wish they were sifting through the terrible prospects on match.com…to which I respond, “No, god, please don’t wish that for yourself or anyone else. Ever.”

This treacherous form of dating just feels so unjust. We just went through hell, we just want to find our person, someone who has the same values, who fits, who is super attractive, healthy, kind, funny, smart, wants to travel the world. But to even have the slightest chance to find this person, we have to willingly subject ourselves to endless photos of half-naked men posing in front of their bathroom mirror. Or, for the unfortunate souls in my age-bracket, pictures of dudes in baseball caps attempting to hide their receding hairline, definitely not half-naked, thank god, and standing next to their brand new convertible or obnoxious truck that will necessitate a ladder to get into.

It’s enough to make you opt to stay in your relationship that is so obviously not working anymore.

(ok , guys, all previous cliches were for dramatic effect…and mean. Who doesn’t have a receding hairline? Hell, I probably do. And there is nothing wrong with you naked. However, the car, don’t give a shit. Didn’t in high school and definitely don’t now).

So here we are. We both desperately want to be where the other is, which is the last thing we would wish for the other… because we love them and we want them to be a happy, fulfilled adult in a beautiful, healthy relationship. But instead, we are both kind of jaded, kind of calloused and truly wondering what the hell to do to get out of our failed attempt at this whole life thing.

All this said, I trust, I hope, that this is not 100% accurate. I know, I hope, that there are couples out there that are happy and fulfilled, and there are single people who love being single. I know you exist. I know some of you out there have figured out how to successfully adult. 

So please, I have some questions. I’m seriously sizing up street corners here, and this certainly doesn’t fit any better than it did in my 20’s. I just do so much better when I have someone to love. I do brilliantly when that someone loves me back. I think I could be really good at this….I just have a few questions.

To read more about Glennon Doyle Melton, bestselling author of Love Warrior, go to:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/glennon-doyle-melton-marriage-was-the-jewel-in-her-blog-universe-then-she-found-out-her-husband-was-a7231636.html?cmpid=facebook-post

Drama Cleanse, days 23-25: Trusting our Intuition

  1. 5-minute Journal- every day
  2. Podcast: Beautiful Writers Podcast: Marianne Williamson: From Tears to Triumph
  3. Visualize for 5 minutes – Everyday, this morning with quick meditation
  4. Exercise: Bar online (20 minute version) and 4 mile run each day
  5. Goal- Submitted article to elephantjournal (heard back today! Request for revision and resubmission!!
  6. An item off your shitty things to do list: God, feel like that is all I have done for the past 3 days…
  7. Do something fun: Friend coming in for the weekend. Fun will be had

Podcast: Beautiful Writers Podcast: Marianne Williamson: From Tears to Triumph

Marianne Williamson is someone I used to read/listen to a lot in my mid-20s. She is truly an enlightened soul but is still approachable and real. This is an interview about her approach to life and how her career path started.

Williamson believes and teaches A Course in Miracles. I actually studied it for a bit, but honestly can’t tell you what the premise is anymore. I do know that it helped formulate my beliefs, but again, not exactly sure how.

Takeaway:

WARNING: This one is a bit on the esoteric/spiritual side. But I need some spiritual right about now, and it made me realize that this whole ‘I’m have to do this on my own’ it just not an option. I need to lean on my tribe and I need some help from some power that is infinitely more powerful, wise and knowing than I.  So whatever you believe in- God, Jesus, Buddha, the Universe…even nothing, I do encourage you to read on and try to keep an open mind.

I have always ‘prayed’ or at least had dialogues with ‘God’. But ‘God’ has changed over the years for me and my belief (emphasize my) is in an omnipotent force that is in me and all beings and all things.

I usually refer to this force as ‘the Universe’. This is my truth. And it is also something that I sometimes doubt, sometimes forget, and sometimes just ignore.

Over the past couple of years, however, I have had to tap into it and I have in full force. And I assure you, I have also doubted its presence and power this year more than I ever have.

A theme I have noticed in these various podcasts- whether it be Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, or Brene Brown- they all have some sort of practice or ritual around prayer/meditation. I personally think this has a lot to do with their success and quality of life. I am learning that is almost impossible to get through tremendous pain, suffering, sense of failure, etc. if you don’t believe in a higher power that can provide guidance, strength, and hope. Some might say people make up an entity to provide comfort and reassurance that they are not alone in the world. I guess I would just say that if you have ever experienced, whatever you want to call it-‘magic’, coincidences, serendipity, miraculous events or experience- there is a sense at something bigger, more powerful, and yes divine, at play. Again, this is my belief.

These successful people I have listened to also attribute their ability to express and access their talent or make crucial decisions that lead to their success comes from this ‘divine inspiration’ or whatever they believe is their source. And all of them take the time on a daily basis to just be quiet whether that is prayer, meditation, or just an activity that allows them to go within. This is where they get their answers or insight.

So this is where I am stuck right now. When I was trying to decide to take the huge leap that I took to move to be with the person I thought was the love of my life, I effing got down on my knees. I prayed, I meditated, (well, I forced myself to sit still long enough to try to hear some sort of guidance), I sought advice from friends, I wrote lists of pros and cons. I did everything I could to listen to my intuition, my heart, my truth. I never once heard anything other than what I knew to be true- ‘trust your intuition, ‘trust your heart’, ‘have faith in yourself’, ‘you deserve this’, ‘you are worth this’… leap.  I would hear these things and I would convince myself that I was just hearing what I wanted to hear and then start the whole process over again. My friends responses were mixed, but they knew I was going to do what I believed to be right. And I 100% believed that I was making the right decision.

So what happened exactly? I still can’t wrap my head around it. Nothing, absolutely nothing did anything but destroy me and pretty much every aspect of my life. That, I know I did not deserve. I certainly know that I am worth more than how I was treated and the circumstances I endured. No, it didn’t break me. Yes, I had to dig deeper than I ever thought possible to get myself out of bed and face the reality of what was happening,  figure out how the hell to get myself out of the situation, and love myself enough to refuse to believe the terrible things that he claimed defined me. I had to do and believe the complete opposite of what I had initially  .. because I had listened to my heart, to my intuition, to the universe.

This is why I am stuck. It is extremely challenging for me to trust in anything right now, especially myself. It’s actually the last thing I feel able to do right now. But if I resign myself to believing that, then I am the victim. That would mean the ‘gods’ were against me, or it was karma, or punishment, or that I deserved it.

I have mentioned before, I believe we manifest everything in our lives. Every person we meet, every failure, every success, every traumatic event, and every miracle. I truly believe that we summon it because of something we need to learn. There are definite patterns that I have repeated in my life over and over. Painful ones and beautiful ones. Clearly it is the painful ones that dominate our thoughts and reactions. We rarely stop and recognize when we feel good, but we are very cognizant when we feel pain. I feel it like I never have. And the only way I could have gotten this far and the reason why I still have hope that I will end up on the other side so much stronger and happier is because I am writing through it.

So there are two pretty significant gifts. Sharing my writing was something I never had the courage to do with confidence. I think even more importantly, I had become complacent in most aspects of my life. I was not living fully or demanding extraordinary from my life. I was coasting and would have continued to had I not invited some pretty painful events and people into my life. When we are suffering and in pain, we will do pretty much anything to make it stop. That means doing something drastically different than what we are doing. Complacency, for me, is just as painful as heartbreak or defeat…at least I think so. It’s a bit hard to say while in the thick of heartbreak and defeat. What I do know is that I am doing things dramatically different that I was, both in my complacency and heartbreak. I am finally giving myself permission to receive love and friendship. I am allowing myself to be imperfect and crazy. I am exposing my insecurities and failures by writing, and trying like hell to remember the gift in all of this.

This is divine. At least I believe it is. So I have to be grateful, give thanks for the gifts- because I needed them, because I wanted them, because I know that they will lead to a life that I want and did not believe I deserved before. So I am checking back in with the Universe and working on learning to trust myself again. Hopefully, I will switch gears and create new patterns that are not shrouded in pain and heartbreak this next round. Fortunately, I also believe that lessons don’t always have to be painful.

That was a bit long-winded. I hope you take what you need from it and that you are already experiencing the gifts from any pain, heartbreak, and/or defeat in your life. I promise, there is always a gift.

We are on the homestretch. Be gentle with yourself. Try to do something fun and surround yourself with people who make you feel loved and happy…and go have a green beer or Guinness if that is your thing. I prefer ‘black and tan’, myself…

 Next Steps for our homestretch: 

Just keep doing whatever positive, nurturing, empowering things you have been doing that are working for you. We’ve totally got this.

Recources

  1. Journal App.fiveminutejournal.com
  2. Visualization: Mike Dooley (visualization tips: http://www.tut.com
  3. Podcast Referenced: Beautiful Writers Podcast: Marianne Williamson: From Tears to Triumph
  4. Exercise: com/online
  5. Goal: com/elephantjournal.com
  6. Cleanse products: Renew’s 7 day Rapid Cleanse, Milk Thistle, Probiotic, Apple Cider Vinegar: https://www.davidwolfe.com/1-tbsp-acv-eliminate-health-problems/

 

Drama Cleanse, days 19-22: Kick and Scream. You have my full permission

  1. 5-minute Journal- everyday but Sunday
  2. Podcast: Beautiful Writers Podcast: Glennon Doyle Melton: Beautiful Love Warrior
  3. Visualize for 5 minutes – Every morning besides Sunday
  4. Exercise: Bar at home; Run; Bar Method at home; Bar Method/run
  5. Goal- Publish article: actually submit article…; Led second Shakespeare. Fun/success
  6. An item off your shitty things to do list: Every day…not exactly a highlight, but feels good to get shit taken care of.
  7. Do something fun: Not there yet. I thought about it though. I didn’t come with anything…yet.

So, this weekend was a little rough…kind of brutal, but I did survive and there was no ‘drama’, just a bad weekend. And, as it always seems to happen, the podcast I have been listening to was about exactly what I am struggling with. I recognize the title probably scares any of you guys out there. It actually was speaking more to women, so you all might want to explore Tim Ferriss or Tony Robbins instead.

Anger. This one just keeps resurfacing again and again. It is a dance, a painful, maddening dance between anger and sadness. It feels constant. I can recognize that glimpses of normalcy and happy are surfacing more too. They just seem to be overshadowed by the dancers of late.

The Podcast is between 3 women who are all brilliant and enlightened and funny. They all have been through some shit and all can pretty much attribute their success to surviving it. Melton sounded like she has led a life extremely similar to mine, minus the kids part.

Takeaway:

They hit on something very poignant and relevant to where I am at. I’m just so fucking angry. It comes in waves and then I beat myself up for feeling it, which is clearly counterproductive. Why the hell should I not be angry? There is really not one thing that has happened to me over the past 6 months that would not conjure up this particular emotion.

This doesn’t make me a victim, it actually compels me to action. But it also deemed unacceptable. ‘We’, being women, are not supposed to be angry. We can be sad, we get permission to cry, but that is because we are sensitive, right? We are emotional. And that’s okay.

But angry. That is just not unacceptable. That is irrational. I saw it in full force in my last ‘relationship’. I am passionate. I get pissed or hurt, I show it. I feel it, and I say it. I heard over and over- calm down, you are crazy, you are manic, you are irrational.  But he, he could say the most vicious things someone can say and that was okay. That was just responding to my ‘crazy’. It was justified. It was my fault for provoking his anger. Or it was simply downplayed or denied.

Clearly I’m not the first one to point this out, but I think it deserves to be reiterated. Men express anger or frustration, they are assertive. They are strong or in control or taking charge. Women? They are a bitch or dramatic or ‘on their period’.

I’m not proud of some of the things that I say and do when anger takes over, but I would not trade passion and expression, even if they are irrational, for passive or tolerant of abusive behavior.

So my expression makes you uncomfortable. Offer up some options then. We go home and cry about what we are pissed off about? We hold our tongue and just let it fester until it becomes so ingrained that passive becomes our default or it just eats us up inside? We go meditate or take a hot bath or go for a run?

Yes, sometimes a good cry or hot bath or run will get it out. But sometimes those ‘healthy’ coping mechanisms just don’t work. Sometimes we just need to blow up, kick and scream and hit, (hitting is not recommended, but I have done it… twice, but he was bigger, stronger, and hardly felt anything…and he fucking deserved it) .

I am not saying this is the high road. I’m not saying this should be our default. But shit, sometimes that is the only way to get it out.

What I am saying is this: I am a passionate, opinionated, strong-willed woman. When I’m pissed off, when I am hurt because you were an ass or you did something cruel or selfish, then you are going to know about it. I am going to tell you, and it might be at a volume or in a tone that makes you uncomfortable. I might make people stare. Deal with it. You shouldn’t have been a selfish ass.

See, I actually feel better. A healthy, acceptable expression of my anger. But be clear. This is because the person I would otherwise be screaming at is not in front of me.

So, I hope your weekend was better than mine. I hope your week is anger as well as drama free. But if it’s not, do whatever you need to do to get it out (maybe refrain from hitting). Everyone around you will be just fine.

Optional steps/practices for next few days:

  1. Journal
  2. Podcast
  3. Visualize
  4. Exercise
  5. Check off one item off your shitty things to do list a day
  6. Do something fun
  7. Step towards goal of choice
  8. Cleanse of your choosing

Recources

  1. Journal App.fiveminutejournal.com
  2. Visualization: Mike Dooley (visualization tips: http://www.tut.com
  3. Podcast Referenced: Beautiful Writers Podcast: Glennon Doyle Melton: Beautiful Love Warrior
  4. Exercise: com/online
  5. Goal: com/elephantjournal.com
  6. Cleanse products: Renew’s 7 day Rapid Cleanse, Milk Thistle, Probiotic, Apple Cider Vinegar: https://www.davidwolfe.com/1-tbsp-acv-eliminate-health-problems/

Eternal Sunshine

“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned.”        – Alexander Pope
I have been staring at this blank page for what seems like hours. I can’t stop thinking about a movie I saw over a decade ago. For those of you who have seen Eternal Sunshine, that should set the tone here.

Yesterday, I caught myself laughing, like really laughing. It felt strange but vaguely familiar. A glimpse of color. 

And then today happened. Today there is no color. Grey doesn’t count as a color.

I can recognize that a bad day isn’t cause for panic. Progress has been made. I think. But the severity of it, of this, when it starts to forge its way to the front. Nothing else can be seen or thought or felt.

In my defense, there are moments that are beyond serendipitous. A song I haven’t heard for a decade is now suddenly everywhere. No, it’s not a coincidence. On the favorite playlist of my local coffee shop. Okay, fair. But the hardware store. Really? Three people in three weeks have introduced themselves with the same name. 480 Facebook friends, a tribe I have been building for almost 40 years. Not one of them has his name. Not one.

Depending on the day, I find these coincidences either comical, or I find the rabbit hole. The dissent is quick, and anything but painless.

Now no place is safe. A friend suggests my favorite tapas bar. Oh shit, no, sorry. Okay, how about that place we love on Broadway? Fuck, right. Seventeenth street work? Wash Park? We went to a movie instead.

It’s not always like this. Until it is again. Someone next to me has cinnamon on their latte. The grocery store. Utter disaster. Thrift store. Nope. A fucking bubble gum wrapper. Fallout.

Yes, I have developed some effective coping mechanisms- some healthy, some not so much. But the prospect, the hope, of arriving at the other side intact, unscathed, seems almost laughable if not impossible right now.

Maybe the initial shock has worn off and now I am just acclimating to the resignation. Well this feels worse. The flashes of color and feelings that would normally presuppose happiness, or at least some sense of peace, are now juxtaposed against the prolonged darkness that looms over the relinquishing of hope for something that will never be and never was.

Never was. I close my eyes sometimes and try to imagine it. Eternal sunshine.

Would I do it? Would I erase the past 9 months if I could? The first 3 would go too. Even better, there would be no reason to waste the 6 months that followed trying to replicate them. All the time spent creating ‘us’, memorizing each other’s every thought, expression, scar, and curve would no longer be the justification for spending twice as long trying to fight for it and even longer trying to forget it. If I could get almost a year of my life back without ‘us’ ever happening. Would I?

I know, this is absurd and pointless. There is no ‘erasing company’ to speed up this forgetting process. And yes, I would consider it. And yes, that goes against everything I have been encouraging myself, and you, to do.  Find the gift. Take the lessons learned. Be grateful for the strength, insight, courage… all of the amazing attributes you gained because you went through fucking hell and survived.

All still apply. Just not today.

My dear friend sent me this quote this week. It physically hurt to read because it is absolutely true.

“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”
 Fernando Pessoa

The same day, another dear friend forwarded me this article. I was only able to skim it, precisely because it was so not what I wanted to hear…because it is absolutely true.

“Love is rarely mutual, which is why when it is, magic explodes in the brilliance of stardust…For when a man falls in love with a woman [or a woman with a man], nothing can stand in the way. Not life, obstacles or even one’s ideas of readiness or worthiness. Nothing. Because as much as we’d like to think otherwise, there is no real reason that he’s not be beside you this evening, other than the fact that he’d rather be somewhere else.”  – Kate Rose

Stings doesn’t it? To the point that you start to cycle right back to the denial phase. It can’t be that he/she would rather be somewhere else, with someone else. It’s the circumstances, the timing, the whatever other possible reason you can come up with that will justify why he/she isn’t here.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am not at the denial stage any longer. I am very clear that he does not want to be by my side. I’m not interested in denying it anymore. But I’m not ready to accept it either. I’m clinging to the absurd.

I want the sun to shine again. And that’s all I want to remember. Just the sun. Not the grey.

I guess this is what we do for awhile, a morbid dance of sorts. We can’t erase the memories, so we have to manipulate them a bit, maybe leave out the parts that still can’t be felt or insert a lens that will shift the focus, change the interpretation to something more manageable. 

Eventually, though, the reality of what really occurred will be very clear and we finally won’t want to manipulate anything. That is the hope, anyway. We will remember how we really felt when they were beside us. The feelings that we are still allowing to dominate our memories- joy, happiness, comfort- were so few and so fleeting.  They were almost always tainted with insecurity and an underlying fear of what we knew was to come. That is what we will remember. And that is why we will be with someone with whom we will experience what is truly love, in the moment, not in a memory.

So for the sake of progress, I’ll leave you with this.

If we had not endured the very worst, we would have settled for something other than the very best. He/she was not the one we have been summoning. A master at disguise, no question, but absurd, impossible, and absolutely necessary to pave the way for what is to come. And it won’t be painful, and it won’t be fleeting, and it most certainly will not be grey.

Read Kate Rose’s entire article here: If He Wanted to Be with You Then He Would Be: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/02/if-he-wanted-to-be-with-you-then-he-would-be

Drama Cleanse, days 15-18: The absolute worst thing that could happen?

  1. 5-minute Journal- check
  2. Podcast: Tony Robbins: Talking with Titans: A visit with Tim Ferris reveals the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers.
  3. Visualize for 5 minutes – Every morning right when I wake up
  4. Exercise: Ride bike to and from bare3 class; Run; Bar Method/run; Bar Method/run
  5. Goal- First Shakespeare Meetup Group-success; Publish article: submitted one to elephantjournal.com
  6. Don’t-want-to-dos – knocked off 4

This week was not necessarily fun, but I tried to stay focused on how good it will eventually feel when I have all this shit sorted out and behind me. I don’t realize how much more energy I spend worrying about things than what it would take to just deal with them. I definitely had to put the ‘5-4-3-2-1’ tactic into use. A few items on my ‘don’t want to-do’ list felt like plunging into the deep end of an empty swimming pull.

Podcast:

NUTSHELL:

I listened to this one twice over the span of 4 days, and it was probably the best one I could have chosen to help me get through this week. Robbins basically just picks Ferriss’ brain about what he has learned from all of the amazing people he has interviewed, and how he has used the tools/words of wisdom to accomplish what he wants in his own life.

As you all know, Ferriss fascinates me and I continue to be more in awe of him the more I listen to him. This one is worth listening to because you get a sense of how far he has come despite major obstacles, setbacks, and his battle with extreme depression (includes a heartfelt account of his near suicidal experience).

He shares an exercise he always puts himself through when he feels stuck or needs to make an important decision. He sits down with a pen and paper (or computer) and makes 3 columns:

Column 1: List of the worst things that could happen

Column 2: List of actions he could take to minimize the likelihood of those things happening

Column 3: List of things he could do to get himself back to good as quick as possible if worse case did happen (which in most cases it doesn’t).

TAKEAWAY:

This exercise was the most impactful thing for me. It seems so simplistic, but it was ridiculously hard to get myself to sit down and do, especially while in mid-descent down the rabbit hole. This particular situation, in conjunction with several others, has been overwhelming to me to the point of paralysis. Writing it down and spelling it out meant admitting that it was really happening. And if it was really happening, then I really had to finally deal with it.

But by avoiding it, letting in snowball into this all-consuming tragic ending, we end up giving so much power to ‘that which shall not be named’. It becomes this intangible force that infiltrates every aspect of our lives, not because of the actual consequences happening, but because of all of the time and energy we spend panicking about them potentially happening. Yes, there will be consequences. But they will most likely be substantially less severe if we actually take action to know and decide what they will be.

As I laid in bed playing out worst case scenarios, I caught myself and started to think of other situations that I have been through that seemed similar in severity. There were a few that came to mind and none of them did me in. Each was resolved and none prevented me from being happy or living a full life.

So I got up, grabbed a pen and paper, and dismantled my mess piece by piece. It’s not pretty, I assure you. I can’t fix it all in a day or even months, but it can be fixed. And those days or months or years are going to pass regardless, so I might as well spend them empowered by the fact that I am taking action vs. anxiously waiting for the sky to fall because I am not.

I’m proud of us, we are making progress. My friend did call me out today, though. He told me I should maybe try to do something fun today. Fun. I can honestly say I have no idea what that might be right now. But I’m going to think about it and come up with something that I will do this weekend… it’s a start.

Optional steps/practices for next few days:

  1. Journal
  2. Podcast
  3. Visualize
  4. Exercise
  5. Step towards goal of choice
  6. Cleanse of your choosing (if you have not started/completed yet)
  7. Check off one thing on your list of things you don’t want to deal with.
  8. DO SOMETHING FUN

Recources

  1. Journal App.fiveminutejournal.com
  2. Visualization: Mike Dooley (visualization tips: http://www.tut.com
  3. Podcast Referenced: Tony Robbins: Talking with Titans: A visit with Tim Ferris reveals the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers.
  4. Exercise: barmethod.com/online
  5. Cleanse products: Renew’s 7 day Rapid Cleanse, Milk Thistle, Probiotic, Apple Cider Vinegar: https://www.davidwolfe.com/1-tbsp-acv-eliminate-health-problems